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First big trip – USA 2001

I got inspired by another blog to write about my first ever big solo overseas trip, which was USA back in April and May 2001, when I was 20 and a month away from the legal drinking age (not that it mattered since I’m a boring non-drinker anyway). I’ve travelled a lot since then, but your first independent trip always remains a rather special memory. I even dug out my travel diary, which was an interesting read in retrospective. For one thing 99% of it is written in Russian, whereas now my travel diaries are 99% in English, and it’s a bit sad to see how much fluency I’ve lost. And good lord it’s overzealous with descriptions; I spent three whole pages listing all the things I’ve seen at the American Museum of Natural History.

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I thought it was time to replay my beloved Ultima games, and since I now have a habit of writing I thought I would also blog about the experience. I found that blogging about playing a game is actually very similar to writing about travel; you pick the funny/weird/interesting details that stick in your mind.

The blog can be found here, or under the Ultima menu under the header.

USA & Mexico Part 3

St Cristobal is a charming place with the pedestrian-only streets in the centre and endless cafes, restaurants, bars and shops. From there, a couple of us went on a half-day excursion to the local villages and Chamula, a town which is mostly famous for its most unusual church. Unfortunately you couldn’t take any photos inside – a fact which was stressed to us over and over – and the descriptions don’t do it justice. Let’s just say that the church is a very bizarre blend of the pre-conquest Mayan and Christian traditions, and involves pine needles on the floor, hundreds of candles, and a chicken sacrifice.

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USA & Mexico Part 2

Mexico trip was a blast; I loved the places we visited and while I almost never had a bad group on my organised trips, our group in Mexico was probably the most fun one and just a great bunch of people. We started in Mexico City, which I wished I could have spent more time in as it felt like I only scratched the surface. Or maybe not, because, as I realised only a few days before, Mexico City is 2,250 m above the sea level, which means altitude sickness and its lovely symptoms like increased motion sickness and feeling bloated. Anyway, the highlight for me was visiting Casa Azul, The Frida Kahlo Museum, where she and Diego Rivera lived and which is dedicated to her life and works. There weren’t that many actual Frida Kahlo paintings, but it’s still a must-visit for any Frida fan (and I so want her colourful kitchen).

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USA & Mexico Part 1

This whole trip happened because of a very special event: the 25th Anniversary Bash for the Ultima Dragons, the internet fan club devoted to the Ultima role-playing game series whose member I’ve been for close to 20 years. I travelled to Vietnam last year and I didn’t anticipate another trip overseas so soon after, but when I heard that a celebration was to be held in Anaheim, I decided almost instantly that I wanted to come. Flying to USA and back again from Australia is quite an ordeal, so to make the most of it I also tacked on an organised trip to Mexico; I’ve never been to Central or South America so I thought I’d start with USA’s closest neighbour.

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Two years of blogging!

So apparently my blog now is two years old. How the time flies. When I started it back in January 2015 I really had no idea how long I’d keep at it and what the blog was going to be about. Since then it’s turned into a more or less constant thing, and once I’ve seen a film or read a book I’m automatically itching to turn my computer on and arrange my thoughts in a coherent and hopefully engaging manner. Admittedly, sometimes I had to let go of the idea that I have to review everything I come across as some sort of obligation to god knows who, and only do it when I genuinely feel like it.

Big thank you to everybody who visited my blog, subscribed or liked a post – it means a lot.

Townsville

Spent four days up in Queensland, in a place where every day was reliably hot and sunny without crazy temperature drops we have to endure here in Melbourne. Though on the plus side, we don’t have to worry about crocodiles and six varieties of stingers. It was rather weird to see beautiful palm-fringed beaches with beautiful warm water… except you couldn’t swim anywhere outside of the official netted areas.

Townsville is a nice place, with gorgeous old colonial buildings in the town centre and lovely sea promenade with lush tropical greenery. Honestly, palm trees just make everything look 200% better. We however also spent some time exploring the surrounds, including the Magnetic Island just across from Townsville, Paluma Range National Park, and a 3-hour drive further up north to the Paronella Park and Mission Beach in the Wet Tropics of Queensland.

Things seen on the road: lots and lots of army trucks and vehicles (there’s a military base near the town), endless sugar cane fields, and one stupid big lizard we almost ran over.